Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall: ‘I was bullied for being Arab’

The singer's maternal grandfather is Yemeni and maternal grandmother Egyptian. (Getty)
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Updated 05 June 2020

Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall: ‘I was bullied for being Arab’

DUBAI: Girl group Little Mix’s star Jade Thirlwall has opened up about bullying she experienced as a teenager due to her Arab roots.

Speaking on the BBC “No Country For Young Women” podcast, the 2011 “X-Factor” finalist, whose maternal grandfather is Yemeni and maternal grandmother Egyptian, said that she felt “ashamed” of her background. 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

oh hey it’s me shamelessly plugging #BreakUpSong for the 1847th time via a thirst trap pic

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“When I went to secondary school, I was literally one of three people of color in the school,” the 27-year-old music sensation, whose father is British, said.

“I remember one time I got pinned down in the toilets and they put a bindi spot on my forehead; it was horrific.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

look in the notebook.

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“I have constantly had this inner battle of not really knowing who I am, or where I fit in, or what community I fit into,” she said.

The singer recalled that she would put white powder on her face “to whiten” herself when performing on stage at her school.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

finding a new love for my natural hair⚡️

A post shared by jade amelia thirlwall (@jadethirlwall) on

After joining Little Mix, she “subconsciously” did not want to talk about her heritage for fear of being disliked.

“I think because I was bullied quite badly in school because of the color of my skin and for being Arab, I wasn’t very proud of who I was,” Thirlwall explained.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

category is: 80s realness @madison_phipps

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“I would hate to talk about my race and heritage and not say the right things,” she added.


E-boutique startup launched amid virus outbreak brings touch of Morocco to UAE

Updated 39 min 26 sec ago

E-boutique startup launched amid virus outbreak brings touch of Morocco to UAE

DUBAI: Almost four months ago, as Dubai authorities announced sweeping precautionary measures to combat a rise in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the UAE, a 29-year-old entrepreneur did the unthinkable – and launched an e-boutique.

Rita Bennani’s business venture, Beldi Bazaar, is a platform that celebrates the universally admired artistic craftsmanship of her native Morocco.

“My friends and family told me not to launch, saying that this was not the time to do so. But then I thought that it didn’t matter because I needed to start and see how it went. It was the best decision I made because there was a huge movement to support small businesses during the pandemic,” she told Arab News.

The platform has provided interior design aficionados with understated and earthy colored home decor items. Supplied

Bennani, who has a background in event planning, moved to the UAE in 2017, and recalled how former colleagues often asked her to bring back keepsakes from Morocco, triggering the idea for her startup.

“I found that in the UAE, it’s not really common to find Moroccan products, except carpets. And for me, Morocco is so much more than just the carpets,” she said.

Bringing a touch of Morocco to Dubai, Beldi (meaning “traditional” in Moroccan Arabic) Bazaar has provided interior design aficionados with understated and earthy colored home decor items – including delicate coffee cups and bowls, luxury tagines and orange blossom candles, and hand-stitched textiles designed by the north African country’s traditional artisans.

Shoppers can find everything from hand-stitched blankets to luxury tagines. Supplied

“I have a strong relationship with a group of women who come from remote villages in the Atlas Mountains. Every single hand-woven blanket and cushion that we have in Beldi Bazaar was made by them. Through Beldi Bazaar, I really wanted to empower women,” she added.

Bennani, who was raised in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, prioritized promoting modern brands that “showcased Moroccan savoir faire.”

Portrait of Rita Bennani. Supplied

Through every hand-picked item available on the platform, Bennani aims to embody the pillars of Moroccan visual and social culture, from presenting diverse color palettes of blues and browns to expressing a sense of warm hospitality to all online visitors.

“What makes Moroccan products – such as ceramics, wood, or zelij – really special is the use of techniques that have been passed on from one generation to the next,” she said.